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Modern Operating Systems by Herbert Bos and Andrew...
Modern_Operating_Systems_by_Herbert_Bos_and_Andrew_S._Tanenbaum_4th_Ed.pdf-M ODERN O PERATING S YSTEMS
Modern Operating Systems by Herbert...
Modern_Operating_Systems_by_Herbert_Bos_and_Andrew_S._Tanenbaum_4th_Ed.pdf-M ODERN O PERATING S YSTEMS
Page 631
In general, we distinguish between attacks that
try to steal infor-
mation and attacks that
try to make a computer program misbehave. An
example of a passive attack is an adversary that sniffs the network traffic and tries
to break the encryption (if any) to get to the data. In an active attack, the intruder
may take control of a user’s Web browser to make it execute malicious code, for
instance to steal credit card details. In the same vein, we distinguish between
, which is all about shuffling a message or file in such a way that it be-
comes hard to recover the original data unless you have the key, and software
, which adds protection mechanisms to programs to make it hard for at-
tackers to make them misbehave. The operating system uses cryptography in many
places: to transmit data securely over the network, to store files securely on disk, to
scramble the passwords in a password file, etc. Program hardening is also used all
over the place: to prevent attackers from injecting new code into running software,
to make sure that each process has exactly those privileges it needs to do what it is
supposed to do and no more, etc.
9.2.1 Can We Build Secure Systems?
Nowadays, it is hard to open a newspaper without reading yet another story
about attackers breaking into computer systems, stealing information, or con-
trolling millions of computers. A naive person might logically ask two questions
concerning this state of affairs:
Is it possible to build a secure computer system?
2. If so, why is it not done?
The answer to the first one is: ‘‘In theory, yes.’’ In principle, software can be free
of bugs and we can even verify that it is secure—as long as that software is not too
large or complicated. Unfortunately, computer systems today are horrendously
complicated and this has a lot to do with the second question. The second question,
why secure systems are not being built, comes down to two fundamental reasons.
First, current systems are not secure but users are unwilling to throw them out. If
Microsoft were to announce that in addition to Windows it had a new product,
SecureOS, that was resistant to viruses but did not run Windows applications, it is
far from certain that every person and company would drop Windows like a hot
potato and buy the new system immediately. In fact, Microsoft has a secure OS
(Fandrich et al., 2006) but is not marketing it.
The second issue is more subtle. The only known way to build a secure system
is to keep it simple.
Features are the enemy of security.
The good folks in the
Marketing Dept. at most tech companies believe (rightly or wrongly) that what
users want is more features, bigger features, and better features.
They make sure
that the system architects designing their products get the word. However, all these
mean more complexity, more code, more bugs, and more security errors.

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